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Baby Basics

How Should I Introduce Finger Foods?

What exactly are finger foods and when can I start introducing them to my baby?

By eight to nine months, when baby starts to develop his pincer grasp (pointer-finger-and-thumb grab), you can start to think about offering him some beginner finger foods. Finger foods, which are foods that baby can easily pick up and easily mash between his gums, help baby begin to learn to self-feed.

Babies don't chew until they get their molars in—before then, they mash food between their gums. That means you want to start with any foods you can make into small soft bits. Try giving some of these popular finger foods:

• Small pieces of ripe fruit, such as banana and peach

• Small pieces of cooked vegetables (avoid raw veggies for now), such as squash and peas

• Soft-cooked sweet potato

• Cheese cubes

• Cooked pasta

• Beans

• Cheerios or rice puffs

• Scrambled eggs

• Wafer crackers

Serve finger foods as part of the main meal. For example, you may need to spoon-feed cereal and yogurt, but baby can feed himself small pieces of cracker. Let baby discover the tastes and textures of finger foods, and watch carefully as he practices eating them.

By Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD, nutritionist